Cops and Courts, Education, Latest News, West Virginia Legislature

House approves Senate state employee pay raise bill — with $10,000 raise for state troopers

MORGANTOWN – The House of Delegates approved the Senate’s state employee pay raise bill on Monday – with an extra boost for state troopers. The additional raise means the bill goes back to the Senate for its agreement.

SB 531 proposes 5% pay raises for most positions. Teachers will see a raise of $2,240 per year, for a total cost of $49,341,893. Student support staff will also see a raise of $2,240 per year, for a cost of $3,382,772. And school service personnel will get an additional $122 per month, for a total cost of $16,400,807.

The big change from the Senate’s bill is the State Police pay raise. The Senate sent over an increase of $2,550 per year, for a total cost of $2,236,327.

But State Police Col. J. L. Cahill had raised the issue of locality pay for Eastern Panhandle troopers, where they can obtain substantially higher pay a few miles away in neighboring states.

Discussion on the House floor on Monday indicated this was a divisive topic – some believing locality pay is necessary for recruitment and retention in that area, others saying it seems fundamentally unfair to other troopers who would perceive their service as of lesser value.

Finance chair Eric Householder, R-Berkeley, said the House version achieves a compromise by giving all troopers a $10,000 raise.

Delegate Jason Barrettt, R-Berkeley, said, “Fair compensation does not always mean equal compensation.” Speaking more broadly for all included in the bill, he noted this is the third raise in several years. “It is my hope we can continue these raises on a consistent basis.”

Delegate Cody Thompson, D-Randolph, said the raise is important for attracting and retaining teachers as well as state troopers. More than 1,000 classrooms have teachers or substitutes who are not certified in the subject matter they’re dealing with.

The vote was 97-0.

The House had both budget bills – SB 250 and HB 4023 – on second reading and moved them both the third reading for amendment and passage on Tuesday. It’s been reported that the House will amend its bill into the Senate’s to set the stage for final negotiations.

Senate action

The Senate adopted in a voice vote SCR 55, which “respectfully urges the current presidential administration to open federal lease sales onshore and offshore, supporting critical energy infrastructure to safely deliver energy produced in West Virginia, and ensuring American energy companies can access the capital they need to hire American workers.”

It now goes to the House.

HB 4065 requires the state Board of Education to establish a hunter safety program for teaching in schools. The House version required courses to be taught in high schools and middle schools, outside of regular school hours, once per semester, on school grounds whenever possible, with school transportation available.

A Senate amendment allows the courses to be taught during or outside school hours, only in middle schools, once per year during spring semester with the option for a fall course, and with the option for a high school course.

It passed 33-0 and goes back to the House.

HB 4517 acknowledges the disappearance of video stores. It repeals code enacted in 1990 requiring movies ratings to be displayed on packaging of rental movies in video stores. The Senate passed it 32-0 and it goes to the governor.

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